Hernandez up for Final Vote

Hernandez chosen as Final Vote candidate

ATLANTA -- Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo went from lobbying one man to lobbying the rest of the country Sunday, when he learned that his catcher, Ramon Hernandez, was chosen as one of the American League candidates for the 2006 All-Star Final Vote. Perlozzo had been working on AL manager Ozzie Guillen, but now the fans have the final say.

"Am I allowed [to vote]? I'll have to get online," Perlozzo said. "He certainly deserves it, with what he's done to this point."

Hernandez leads AL catchers in home runs (15) and RBIs (59), but he'll need help to join Miguel Tejada as All-Star Orioles. He'll be up against four other candidates for the Final Vote: Cleveland's Travis Hafner, Minnesota's Francisco Liriano, Chicago's A.J. Pierzynski and Detroit's Justin Verlander. The winner will get the final spot on the AL's All-Star team.

"I don't really think about," Hernandez said. "If I get in, great. If I don't, I just get to spend more time with my family. If I don't make it now, hey, there will always be a next time, I guess."

Last year, Chicago's Scott Podsednik won the Final Vote. This year, Hernandez may find his path blocked by two AL catchers on the team -- Minnesota's Joe Mauer and Detroit's Ivan Rodriguez. In any case, the Orioles are one of two AL East teams with short representation. Tampa Bay will only send one All-Star, Scott Kazmir, to the Midsummer Classic.

"I think they just look at the performance of our players," Perlozzo said. "We've had some guys do fairly well, but not necessarily outstanding. We've got some good players. Hopefully, we can get one or two more on there, somehow."

Hernandez, like Corey Patterson and Kris Benson, was a successful offseason addition for Baltimore. And now Perlozzo wants to repay the favor any way he can. If it takes some time at the keyboard, he's more than willing to step forward. The Orioles have never had a participant in the Final Vote before, so it's new ground for everyone in the organization.

"There are a lot of guys that are doing very good," Hernandez said. "Whatever pick they make, it is the right pick. Somebody has to stay out."

"I look at the All-Star team every year," Perlozzo said Saturday. "And there's always two, three or sometimes four people that are deserving and just don't get a chance because of numbers or some other reason. I'm hoping that Ramon is still going to get picked, but he's certainly a guy that if he doesn't, will be more than deserving to make that club."

Now in its fifth year, the Monster.com 2006 All-Star Final Vote gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Chevrolet, and continues until 6 p.m. ET on Thursday. The winners will be announced on ESPN and MLB.com shortly thereafter.

There are two ways for fans to vote for the 2006 All-Star Final Vote -- online now at MLB.com, or on-the-go from their cell phones. Fans can text the word "VOTE" to 36197 to receive the All-Star Final Vote Candidates sent to their phones. To vote for a specific player, simply reply with your choice. For $.30 per text message vote, fans will have the freedom to vote from wherever they are. Fans can get the mobile ballot now. In Canada, fans should text the word "VOTE" to 28776.

The fun doesn't end there, however. Fans, having already decided the starters and final position player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet at the 77th All-Star Game via the Monster 2006 All-Star Game MVP Vote on MLB.com.

The All-Star Game, to be held at Pittsburgh's PNC Park on Tuesday, July 11, at 8 p.m. ET, will be televised nationally by FOX Sports and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage and MLB Radio will provide exclusive play-by-play coverage of the game on the Internet.

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.